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Big Bend area schools concerned about COVID-19 spread over holiday season

Posted at 6:20 PM, Nov 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-13 18:20:52-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — As COVID-19 cases rise across the nation and schools in our area close to ensure safety, some school administrators are looking ahead to holiday safety.

With just one week and a day left before their regularly scheduled Thanksgiving holiday break, FAMU DRS closed its doors due to COVID-19. Now, they and other districts ask parents to help ensure as much safety as possible for when students return.

"You know I can't say, 'you know, don't go over to grandma's house or aunts and uncles,' but for parents just to really be mindful of that we're still in the middle of a pandemic and that this pandemic is very serious," said Michael Johnson, the superintendent of FAMU DRS.

The pandemic causes high student quarantine rates in places like South Georgia's Grady County, with 134 students out due to possible exposures, and closures announced Friday for Cook County from November 18 through December 2.

Lowndes County administrators also offered a reminder to parents.

"Well, I think it's clear when they are not in our control that there are always concerns," said Laverne Rome, the director of Public Relations for Lowndes County Schools. "And we just encourage our students and families to do what is best to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Of course, that includes what they do in school every day, face coverings avoiding large crowds, social distancing, hand washing."

Lowndes currently has 35 students in quarantine with two new employee cases.

Leon County saw a spike this week with as many as five students and five staff cases coming in on one day.

"They're really not getting it from the school day," said Dr. Alan Cox, the assistant superintendent of Leon County Schools. "I know the cases, and these are all pretty much household protocols from the things that they are involved in after school."

Each district said they plan to sanitize classrooms and school areas while children are away heavily.

Johnson adds that while they do not plan to keep FAMU DRS closed for the remainder of the year at this time, he and his administration will take any action they see fit to ensure student and staff safety.

Cook County is also offering a wireless access point to assist students working from home during the extended closures.